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Google My Business: A tutorial for small businesses

Google My Business is a free, easy to use online tool provided by Google for small businesses.  With a Google My Business, businesses can create a listing to easily connect to their customers across Google Search and Maps, post updates and see how customers are interacting with their business on Google.

It is increasing important that businesses use their Google My Business listing to manage their online presence. If you are a local business, you must have a Google My Business listing. You need to optimize your Google My Business listing to reflect your service. Be sure to update all required information including website, name, phone number, street address (important for location in Maps) and work hours. Make sure you remain consistent with this information throughout the internet.

Why is Google My Business important 

Google is the world's most widely used search engine. When users search for local businesses, Google prefers to refer to listings done on it's own platforms.

Being listed on Google's platform means that you get to compete for the first page results shown by the search engine when a user searches for local businesses that provide services similar to your business. And higher you are on the search engine result page, the likelihood of your business being discovered by customers increases.

Manage your listing and interacting with customers

To be listed on Google My Business, a business has to be registered. When you sign up for Google My Business, Google will verify the listing with you. According to Google, businesses that verify their information are more likely to be considered as reputable by their customers. 

Google My Business also lets you add photographs to your profile. Businesses that add photographs to their profiles are more likely to get direction requests from consumers in Google Maps and more click through to their website than businesses that do not add photographs.

Local customers are more likely to refer to Maps shown in Google searches. This is where Google uses it's location service. 

'Near me' searches and the importance of location-based searches

'Near me' searches are becoming increasingly popular with the on-the-go consumers. People visiting from 'out of town' are increasingly likely to type search queries in the browser ending in the phrase 'near me'. When the Google Search Engine comes across a query ending with the words 'near me', the bots and the spiders access the business address on the business listing (on Google My Business), GPS data (location data on mobile devices), or the address data (on indexed websites)  to match against the search query. The closer the location, the greater the chances of being displayed.

How do I use Google My Business?

You can sign into Google My Business using the link Google My Business.

To open an account, you need a valid gmail account. Once you have signed into GMB using your gmail account, you will have to verify your business with Google.

Your Google My Business dashboard will appear. Find the red banner on top and click the ‘Verify now’ button on the top.

You can verify your business with Google via phone, text or by receiving a postcard at the place of your business. The verification process helps ensure that your business information is accurate across google. 

It also prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing or modifying your business profile. The verification process can take up to a few weeks.

Once you receive the verification code from Google, you can enter it into your GMB dashboard and the edit your business profile. On your business profile update your business name and hours of operation. You can also add photographs and update any promotions you want to offer your customers.

It may take a few weeks for your information to be updated on Google. To check how your business listing appears in Google Search, type your business name and city in the browser.

Pro Tip:Make sure your business name and address on your Google My Business profile is consistent everywhere on the web. Example: If you own Merchant and Sons is your legal name, you should not enter it and Merchants & Sons. 

Image credit: Google My Business icon has been altered to fit scale
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